Washington, DC – American lawmakers, including Congressional leaders, joined community partners at a Congressional briefing to highlight the need for the minority communities to unite to handle rising hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans across the country.
Addressing the Congressional hearing organized by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) in association with several other groups, US Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, “I have been deeply disturbed by the growing number of religious-based hate incidents across the United States, including the rising tide of hate violence targeting South Asian, Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh Americans nationwide.”
Senator Cardin urged, “Leaders from the national level to the neighborhood level must make opportunities to speak out forcefully against this kind of intolerance … Each threat needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness as we band together to discourage such vicious language and activity.”
Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii said, “The increase in hate crimes and attacks on minority communities since the election is no coincidence- they are the unfortunate result of individuals who feel newly empowered by an Administration whose top advisors include a noted white supremacist.”
“If we do not stand up against these horrific actions now, we will be complicit in what follows,” cautioned Hirono.
Congresswoman Judy Chu said the communities should collectively “push back” against the rising tide of hate crimes while the first Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal called for continuous efforts, “to be resilient to counter the fearful, hateful people who think they can control us—they cannot.”
Congressman Raul Grijalva from Arizona blamed the US President Donald Trump’s campaign “for president on themes of bigotry and intolerance, and sadly, his success has emboldened some of the darkest and most reprehensible pockets of our society,” urging Republicans across the country, “to learn: politicians who embrace hate don’t just betray their oath of office – they endanger innocent lives.”
Senior most Indian American Congressman Ami Bera from California also called upon the political leadership including President Trump, “to stand up to these disturbing acts of hate violence — starting with the President.”
“These hateful attacks do not reflect who we are as a nation of immigrants, but such violence could do irreparable damage to our reputation around the world,” noted Bera.
Congressman Mark Takano also from California added, “The disturbing rise of hateful rhetorical and violence directed at South Asian, Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh Americans nationwide threatens the basic premise of our country. Americans of all faiths, ethnicities, and nationalities must come together to ensure we protect the diversity and tolerance that makes us a beacon of hope around the world.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng from New York echoed those sentiments, “Immigrant, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, Hindu, and South Asian American communities continue to be targets of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric. It remains critical for elected officials to speak out early, loudly, and often against hate violence and the policies that fan the flames of violence.”
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois summed the briefing saying, “As we confront this wave of hate, it is heartening to see so many Americans – from the South Asian community and others – coming together for essential meetings, like this briefing, to speak out and stand up for the values of our country.”
Congressman Ro Khanna expressed confidence that the US, “will stand together, on a bipartisan basis, against hateful words and actions, and we must prosecute any hate crimes to the full extent of the law.”
A SAALT recent report titled, “Power, Pain, Potential,” listed several incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities.
“This breaks down further into 140 incidents of hate violence and 67 instances of xenophobic political rhetoric of which 196 or an astounding 95 percent were motivated by anti Muslim sentiment. Additionally, one in five instances of xenophobic political rhetoric we documented came from presidential nominee and now President-elect Trump,” the report said.
“As President Trump continues to test fire Muslim bans, this administration appears intent on intensifying efforts to ignore and provoke hate violence,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT, adding, “The President has a sworn duty to protect the rights and safety of all Americans. Today’s briefing with Congressional leaders is an important step in making sure President Trump doesn’t escape his responsibilities.”
SAALT was joined by other partner organizations including Sikh Coalition, Washington Peace Center/D.C. Justice for Muslims Coalition, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Arab American Institute.